Glossary of Academic Terminology

The following glossary represents a list of the various terms and definitions that students, faculty, and staff encounter at Rice University.

Academic Calendar
The Academic Calendar represents important semester-specific dates and deadlines for students officially registered for courses listed on Rice's Course Schedule, as well as for all Rice degree-seeking students, academic and administrative departments, and instructors. The Academic Calendar for each academic year (including semester or quadmester) is approved by the Faculty Senate and is posted on the Academic Calendars page on the Office of the Registrar's website.

Academic Credential
The notation on the transcript that represents the completion of a formally recognized academic program.

Academic Program
A coherent group of credit courses that lead to an academic credential (e.g., degree and academic major tied to the degree, academic minor, university certificate).

Academic Standing
Academic Standing classifications and stipulations are defined in the General Announcements for both undergraduate students and graduate students. An undergraduate student's academic standing is calculated for the Fall and Spring semesters and may be impacted by the term GPA or the cumulative GPA, or both.

Academic Year
The period of instruction composed of the fall, spring, and summer semesters for the traditional semester academic calendar. The academic year begins at the start of the fall semester and ends after the last day of the summer semester.

The period of instruction composed of the summer, fall, winter, and spring quadmesters for the quadmester academic calendar. The academic year begins at the start of the summer quadmester and ends after the last day of the spring quadmester.

Admitted Student
An admitted student is one who has been accepted by the university into a degree-seeking program and who has confirmed their acceptance. Incoming accepted students are considered admitted students from the time they confirm their acceptance until their matriculation or the first day that they register for classes.

Alum (or Alumni)
As defined in the constitution of the Association for Rice Alumni (ARA), "An alum is an individual who has completed at least one full academic year at Rice University in a degree-granting program, excluding current students."

Articulation Agreement
An Articulation Agreement is a formal agreement documenting an arrangement between Rice and another college/university providing an approved and formalized pathway for the articulation of transfer credit.

Auditing Courses
Students may audit a course (see Noncredit Seeking/"Not for Credit") at Rice either as degree-seeking students or visiting non-degree-seeking students by securing the permission of the instructor and registering as an Auditor with the Office of the Registrar. There are no credit hours associated with audited courses, and auditing a course does not affect a student's GPA.

Any student, including matriculated degree-seeking and visiting non-degree-seeking students, may audit one or more courses found on the Rice course schedule by securing the permission of the instructor and by registering as an Auditor with the Office of the Registrar. This allows the student to officially observe the course content and participate in the course learning activities. The audited course will appear on the student's transcript with a grade of either "AUD" or "NC." There are no credit hours associated with audited courses, nor are there any impacts on a Rice student's Grade Point Average (GPA). More information can be found in the General Announcements.

Baccalaureate Degree
The baccalaureate degree is awarded after completing an undergraduate program of study; typically completed after four years. At a minimum, a baccalaureate degree requires the completion of 120 credit hours, and more information regarding the requirements for each can be found in the General Announcements. A complete listing of bachelor’s degrees is available at

Banner is the student information system (SIS) used at Rice. It is the university's system of record for student data. Students have access to their data through ESTHER at and depending on an instructor, faculty member, or staff person's role, they may have access through ESTHER or Edgar/WebApps at

Carnegie Unit
The Carnegie Unit is used at Rice to measure the amount of time (contact hours/minutes, preparation hours/minutes, and a combination of both for a given semester) a student spends in a course to equate to a total amount of semester credits to be earned. For more information, please visit the Contact Hours and Credit Hours page.

See University Certificate.

CEU (Continuing Education Unit)
The CEU (Continuing Education Unit) is a nationally recognized uniform unit of measurement of individual participation in non-credit continuing education. One CEU is defined as “ten contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience, under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction.” CEUs provide the framework for individuals to document their efforts to update or broaden their knowledge or skills through various non-credit educational options. CEUs are granted for classroom hours and are not granted for hours spent at such activities as performances, field trips or tours. CEU credits are available through courses completed in the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, but are not considered Rice course credit and are not listed on the Rice academic transcript.

Classification of Instructional Programs provides a taxonomic scheme for all fields of study. All majors and major concentrations have a CIP code. In some instances, programs with STEM-related CIP codes permit international students to acquire a visa to stay longer in the USA after graduation. and

A particular class, such as ARTS 225, MATH 101, etc. All courses are listed in the Rice Course Catalog, at:

Course Catalog
Also known as the Rice Course Catalog, the complete and entire list of courses offered as part of the official Rice curriculum at Rice University, at:

Course Section
A unique offering of a particular class, such as ARTS 225 001, MATH 101 002, etc. (The 3-digit code following the course number is the section number.) There can be multiple offerings of a course each semester, and they are published in the Rice Course Schedule at All face-to-face sections begin with a 0, 7, or “S”; all international travel sections begin with a 7; all online sections begin with a 9; all anchor courses sections will have the letter “S” in the first or second position; and all sections with a fee have an “F” in the second position.

Course Schedule
Also known as the Rice Course Schedule, the list of courses available and offered for a specific semester, at

Course Student Learning Outcomes
Listed on the course syllabus, the course student learning outcomes are represented by a statement formalizing the competencies, practical and professional skills, higher-level thinking, and analytical skills that the instructor expects students to obtain by the conclusion of the course.

Course Type
Course types are used by departments to create, modify, and schedule courses. In order to classify courses appropriately in the Rice Course Schedule, course types carry unique definitions. For more information on course types and corresponding definitions, please visit the Course Type Definitions page on the Office of the Registrar's website.

Contact Hour
A contact hour is defined as 50 minutes of scheduled instruction presented to students. The contact hour, along with the Preparation Hour, is used to calculate the Semester Credit Hour. See Credit Hour and/or Carnegie Unit.

Continuing Studies Noncredit Student
A Continuing Studies Noncredit Student is a student enrolled in a non-degree-seeking program or course at Rice's Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

Course Reference Number. This is a unique five-digit number assigned to a specific section of a course for a given semester. The CRN is used by Banner to identify an individual section in a single data field. All Fall Semester CRNs begin with a 1; Spring Semester CRNs begin with a 2; Summer Semester CRNs begin with a 3; Summer Quadmester CRNs begin with a 4; Fall Quadmester CRNs begin with a 5; Winter Quadmester CRNs begin with a 6; and Spring Quadmester CRNs begin with a 7.

Credit Hour
Also known as semester credit hour which is the amount of credit awarded for successful completion of one contact hour of classroom instruction and two preparation hours per week for a semester of not less than 14 weeks. More information regarding semester credit hours, including a matrix that helps to calculate the credit hours that each course carries, can be found on the Contact Hours and Credit Hours page on the Office of the Registrar's website.

Credit Seeking (For-Credit)
Credit seeking students register for a course through Rice’s Course Schedule that carries credit hours for credit as opposed to registering as an auditor receiving 0 credit. The credit hours are listed on the student’s academic transcript.

Cross-listed Courses
Cross-listed courses share title, credit, description, meeting time and days, classroom assignment, per-requisites, co-requisites, permission required restrictions, grade mode, instructor, repeatability guidelines, and distribution credit. Students cannot receive credit for more than one section of a cross-listed course.

Courses, coursework, test scores, documents, non-course requirements, etc. that are outstanding and required before a student can be cleared to graduate, be granted full admission, and so on.

See baccalaureate degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree.

Degree Requirements
The courses required for the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science (including Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees), Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Architecture degrees. In addition to these requirements, students must complete all other university requirements before they can receive their baccalaureate degrees.

Degree Works
The computer system that displays to students how their earned credit hours are being applied towards a selected Rice degree program, along with what courses and remaining credit hours are needed for graduation. As the university’s degree audit system, Degree Works is accessed through ESTHER.

An administrative unit at the university. The department may or may not offer an academic program, student learning opportunities, and/or courses found in Rice's Course Catalog.

The diploma is a formal document issued by the university to symbolize that a Rice degree has been conferred (awarded) by the institution upon the recipient.

Directory Information
Directory information is identified by the university as information that can be released without a student’s permission. If students prefer to not have their information released, they are required to request the withholding of their directory information. See the FERPA page for additional information on FERPA at Rice.

Doctoral Degree
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree is awarded to Rice students after the successful completion of at least 90 credit hours of graduate study, which includes an original investigation that is formalized in an approved thesis. PhD or DMA students are required to complete at least four semesters of full-time study at Rice.

Enrolled Student
An enrolled student is any student at Rice who is registered for at least one course for credit.

The computer system interface available to all Rice community members: faculty, staff and students.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of, and limit access to, student educational records. See the FERPA page for additional information on FERPA at Rice.

Flipped Classroom
The method of delivery for a particular course section that utilizes class time for discussion and experiential activities and out of class time for reading and watching course content (e.g., lectures are offered online).

An undergraduate student who has completed and earned less than 30 semester credit hours.

Full-time Student
An undergraduate student is considered as registered under full-time status when they are registered for 12 or more credit hours in a semester. Graduate students on Rice’s three semester Academic Calendar are considered under full-time status when they are registered for 9 credit hours or more. Graduate students on Rice’s four-term (quadmester) Academic Calendar are considered under full-time status when they are registered for 6 credit hours or more.

General Announcements (GA)
The documented official curriculum of Rice University, the academic policies and procedures, etc. Other schools often refer to this publication as the Bulletin, or the Catalog. Previously published in written booklet form, the GA is now displayed online and is updated annually for each specific academic year.

Graduate Student (GR)
A student that has matriculated into and is enrolled in a graduate-level program.

Graduate Quadmester Student (GQ)
A student that has matriculated into and is enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program that is being offered on the quadmester academic calendar.

In-Progress (IP)
A grade indicating that a course is still in progress and will be completed at a later date.

Instructor of Record
The individual(s) designated by the academic unit as responsible for the course, including developing and overseeing its content and administration, assignments, and grades.

Jones Graduate School of Business Noncredit Student
Definition is forthcoming.

An undergraduate student who has completed and earned at least 60 semester credit hours and less than 90 semester credit hours.

A student's level refers to their student type which is dependent on what type of academic program they are pursuing. Baccalaureate degree-seeking students at Rice are considered undergraduates (UG) or undergraduate professionals (UP). Master's or Doctoral degree-seeking students fall into the level of graduate students (GR), with the exception of students enrolled in a quadmester program, as they are classified as graduate quadmester students (GQ). Non-degree-seeking undergraduates at Rice are in the visiting undergraduate (VU) student level. Non-degree-seeking graduate students (students who have previously obtained a baccalaureate degree) are at the visiting graduate student level (VG).

Class locations are listed in student schedules in ESTHER (for students) or on the Course Roster in ESTHER (for faculty and instructors). Additional information is available here.

Lower Level
Undergraduate courses numbered 100 through 299, sometimes referred to as lower division courses or as freshman and sophomore courses.

Also known as academic major. The academic major represents a cohesive and extensive program of study in a designated subject area in which a student commits to gaining in-depth knowledge, competence, and understanding. Students may pursue more than one major while pursuing a degree, but the completion of at least one major is required in order to award a degree.

Major Concentration
Also known as academic major concentration. The academic major concentration is a second-order component of a degree program and is represented by a coordinated group of courses that reflect a sub-specialization or emphasis within a major field for currently enrolled students in the major. Courses and credit hours earned toward the major concentration also apply towards the completion of the major. While a major concentration is not required for a degree to be awarded, a major concentration must be declared by the student if it is required to complete the major's requirements.

Master's Degree
A Master's Degree is awarded after completion of a graduate Master's-level degree program's requirements. The Master's Degree, at a minimum, must represent 30 credit hours of study with coursework completed at the 500-level or above. Master's Degrees are classified at Rice by Thesis Master's Programs, Nonthesis Master's Programs, and Professional Degrees. More information for each type of Master's Degree can be found in the General Announcements.

Matriculated Student
For graduate degree-seeking students, a matriculated student is a new student that has either registered for a course or the first day of classes (whichever is first). For undergraduates matriculating in the fall, matriculation begins at the matriculation ceremony during O-week or the date that the student first registers for classes. For undergraduates matriculating during the spring semester, they become a matriculated student on the first day of classes.

Method of Delivery
Sometimes referred to as Mode of Delivery. The mode of delivery represents the instructional method that is being used to communicate course content with students. Individual course sections can be taught using different methods of delivery. For example, if there are two sections of ECON 100 represented on Rice's Course Schedule for the fall semester, section 001 could be taught face-to-face, and section 901 could be taught through Online/Distance Learning. At Rice, the current methods of delivery available for Rice courses/instructors are either face-to-face (FACE) or 100% Online (ONLIN). Instructors wishing to offer course sections using the 100% Online method of delivery must receive approval from Rice Online.

Also known as academic minor. The academic minor comprises a designated group of classes in a discipline that is outside the major field(s). Minors typically consist of a minimum of 18 credit hours and are not required to obtain a degree.

Non-credit Seeking ("Not for credit")
When a student registers for a course as an auditor, they are not seeking to obtain credit hours earned for the course. The registration is included in the course roster and enrollment count, and the student will have this course recorded as a course that they audited in the student record and their academic transcript.

Nontraditional Student
The National Center for Education Statistics defines nontraditional students as meeting one of seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into postsecondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent for financial aid purposes; has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent; or does not have a high school diploma. These are students enrolled in for credit courses.

Online/Distance Learning
See Distance Education. Distance education is a formal educational process in which the majority of instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use the internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; audio conferences; or video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMS is used as part of the distance learning course or program. See for additional information.

Overrides / Registration Overrides
Permission granted for a student to surpass a block that prohibits the student to register. Permission may be approved by the course instructor via a Special Registration Form (Undergraduate or Graduate) or through an electronic course override by the primary instructor through ESTHER.

Part-time Student
A part-time undergraduate student is a Rice student enrolled in less than 12 credit hours in the fall or spring semesters. Graduate students on Rice’s three semester Academic Calendar are considered under part-time status when they are registered for less than 9 credit hours. Graduate students on Rice’s four-term (quadmester) Academic Calendar are considered under part-time status when they are registered for less than 6 credit hours.

Pedagogy is the method behind teaching.

Preparation Hour
The preparation hour is represented by 50 minutes of outside of class or nonscheduled preparation work the typical student is expected to complete. The preparation hour, along with the Contact Hour, is used to calculate the appropriate Semester Credit Hours that each course carries. See Credit Hour and/or Carnegie Unit.

Residency is defined by institutional coursework completed, and residency requirements (i.e., a certain number of credit hours completed at Rice University) are included in the Degree Requirements for both undergraduate degree-seeking and graduate degree-seeking students.

See Course Section.

A semester is made up of 14 weeks of instruction plus a final exam week during the fall and the spring of each Academic Year.

An undergraduate student who has completed and earned a total of 90 semester credit hours, or more.

An undergraduate student who has completed and earned at least 30 semester credit hours and less than 60 semester credit hours.

Standard Time Block
Standard Time Blocks are the day/time period combinations used for course and classroom scheduling to optimize the use of Rice’s resources. More information can be found on the Office of the Registrar's website.

A student is any individual who is or has been in attendance at the university and for whom the university maintains education records. See Matriculated Student.

A syllabus is an outline of a course provided by the instructor. It includes an overall summary of the topics to be covered, schedule of assignments and/or exams, and the associated grading structure in addition to course policies, responsibilities and outcomes.

Rice follows an academic calendar of 14 weeks of instruction for the fall and spring semesters. Rice also follows an academic calendar for parts of term which is a term that has dates that take place within a larger semester.

Also known as academic transcript. The academic transcript represents the official university record of a Rice student's academic history of coursework completed at Rice and the grades and associated Grade Point Average received. Also listed on the transcript are declared academic credentials, awarded academic credentials for students who have completed their degree, and university honors awarded by the institution upon the conferral of the degree. Only Rice students who have been enrolled in Rice courses (courses listed in Rice's Course Catalog, see Course) will have a Rice academic transcript.

Undergraduate Student (UG)
A student that has matriculated into and is enrolled into a bachelor’s degree program.

Undergraduate Professional Student (UP)
A student that has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and who has matriculated into and is enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture program.

University Certificate
Certificates are formally recognized programs of study attesting to a level of competence or to the development of skills in a particular area of field. For information related to policies and regulations regarding certificates, see Undergraduate Certificates and Graduate Certificates.

Upper Level
Undergraduate courses numbered 300 through 499, sometimes referred to as upper division courses, or as junior and senior courses.

Visiting Graduate Student (VG)
A student that has not formally been admitted or matriculated into a degree program, but has been permitted to register for and take a Rice graduate-level course (or courses) for credit.

Visiting Undergraduate Student (VU)
A student that has not formally been admitted or matriculated into a degree program, but has been permitted to register for and take a Rice undergraduate-level course (or courses) for credit.

Year of Study (YOS)
The year of study represents the undergraduate student's class seniority based on credit hours completed. See Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior.